Author: Lopaka Tanu
Aussie Editor: Lady Midath
Disclaimer: I do not own Rogue.
Characters: Pete McKell, Neil Kelly
Fandom: Rogue (Movie - 2007).
Warnings: Language, Threat Of Violence, Sexual Activity, Mentioned Character Deaths, Mentioned Drug Use, Mentioned Suicide.
Summary: Three months after the events of the movie, Pete's life is just now getting back on track. Then someone he never expected to see again arrives to make things difficult. Of course.
Author's Note: Draws heavily from the movie, with one major change.
Shadows fell over him. They were people passing on the street outside. He could see them. The world continued to bustle beyond the stenciled on letters. It was just another spring day in Chicago.
The waning hours of the morning brought with them more life. Watching through his sunglasses, the world was muted and dark. He slowly sipped at his coffee in time to an internal clockwork. Each action was perfectly calculated down to the last flex of muscle.
Pete was well aware of the image he gave off. He welcomed it in fact. The less chance of someone approaching him the better. 'Besides,' he thought with a smirk, 'neurotic was kinda fun.'
His right hand twitched.
People on the street continued on with their lives. No one stopped to glance through the window.
Sipping from the cup, he tried to keep the noise down. Even with all the mindless background chatter, it was still relatively quiet in the shop. That was the main draw in his opinion.
He glanced down at the laptop in front of him. The screen stood activated and the web browser open. The layout was different than what he was used to. That was to be expected, it was a new computer. The associated memory made him frown.
Even through it all they had been unable to find his missing luggage. Funny, that had been the one thing that irked him most. Because some over-paid monkey in a jumpsuit couldn't read a tag, he was stuck with a new computer.
Hey, it wasn't the worst thing to happen to him. The wry humor made him smile. It felt good to do so. Didn't last long, though, never did. The fingers on his left hand twitched. He watched them for a moment before looking up.
Watching the waitress pass by his table, he glanced to the clock on the wall. He confirmed the time against his wrist watch. Seeing they were both in agreement made him sigh. His lunch hour was almost up.
Pete leaned forward to grab the screen of his laptop. As he closed it his eyes automatically went to the web-mail in the browser. With a sigh, he glanced away.
Reaching for his bag, his right hand dragged against the zipper. He froze. It took every ounce of self control not to react any more. A tremor ran through his face as he forced his remaining fingers to grab the handle.
He steadfastly refused to look at his hand while he opened the bag. He slid the laptop in the center folds of the bag. It was quickly followed by the cooling pad and wireless mouse. Once everything was secured in the leather case, he zipped it shut.
Standing was a trick with only one good hand. He managed it without much hesitation. He grabbed the bag with his good hand and headed for the door. The sound of his patent leather shoes reflected the morning light back up at him.
His hair caught in the breeze and blew over his forehead. The gentle shifting was soothing against his skin. It was a welcome change to the world around him.
Not two feet away cars made their stop and go flow through the streets. He could smell the exhaust from so many that it drowned out the stink of an alley he passed. At least the sun beating down on his face blinded him to it all.
That kept him bumping in to people though. Every time he jarred his arm against another person sent another stab of pain up his wrist. The streets in this part of town were every bit as crowded as New York's had been yesterday.
There was one big difference that reminded him he was in Chicago, though. The people here apologized when it was their fault. Then they elbowed their way past him, not before. That made all the difference in the world.
"Welcome home," he mumbled under his breath.
If there was a form of torture that would break even war criminals, it had to be elevator music. Pete was certain that the composers of muzak were all sadists. That was the only explanation for why so many people hated it.
His stomach growled, the weight of gravity making him slightly nauseous. Elevators. God, how he hated the damned things. It was only for a few seconds, then he would be back in the office.
Back to work.
Reaching up, he pinched the bridge of his nose. The headache had been threatening him since Michigan Avenue. It looked like the throbbing might actually win. Thankfully, he kept a bottle off asprin in his bag. He would wait until secure back at his desk before he wrestled them out, though.
The unnecessarily loud ding from the floor sensor made him wince. Opening his eyes, he saw that the lift car had arrived at his office. The doors slid open and a wall of noise slammed in to him.
People were talking louder than they had to. A couple phones were ringing through the cubicle farm. Near the back an ancient copy machine droned on. Cheap shoes bounced on a desk idly. Beneath all this lay an undercurrent of keys clacking from a hundred different computer keyboards.
Pete sighed. He forced himself to step off the elevator in to the office of 'Horizons Beyond'. As he did, a sick dread formed an iceball in his stomach.
This had been a mistake.
He laughed, flat and humourless. That was what he had been thinking for the past week. Ever since he had decided to come back the dread had been his constant companion. What did he expect to change now that he was here?
Finally, he reached his desk. Setting the computer bag on his desk was almost orgasmic. Pete sighed with relief as he lowered himself in to the office chair.
He had never waved off so many people in his life. How in the hell did all these people work in this office? There wasn't enough room. It occurred to him that may be they hadn't. The magazine only took up six cubicles. Hell, they shared a managing editor with two others publications.
The thought that half the building would show up just to meet him made him shudder.
Slumping in his chair he took a deep breath. His early lunch was supposed to have helped with this. If schedules were as he remembered, more than half the office would have been gone when he came back. Pete could only shake his head. Apparently his life wasn't the only one to have changed in the last three months.
No, his were just the most exciting changes. He looked around to confirm his suspicions. Much to his disappointment they were watching him. There would be no peace even here.
As if in response to his thoughts a hand smacked him on the shoulder. "Hey there, Petey!" The owner dropped backwards against his desk.
Pete looked up in irritation to the last person he wanted to see. He didn't bother to hide the exasperation from his face. "What do you want, Ted?"
Sitting back, Ted crossed his arms. The smug grin on his face matched the sharp glint to his eyes. "Long time no see, eh, buddy?"
"We are not friends. You are after my job." May be it was two years of putting up with the guy. It might have been three months of dealing with smug talking heads who thought his life was their business. Well, more than likely it was facing down a crocodile that literally wanted to eat him. Whatever the source, Pete no longer found the other man's expression intimidating.
Ted put a hand to his chest. He faked a look of hurt as he stared down at the other man. "Peter, you wound me. I only cared to know how you are dealing with this. What, with this being your first day back at work."
Holding up his right hand, Pete waved his three remaining fingers at the guy. "I drove a six foot long pike through the head of the last reptile that fucked with me." A tiny smirk formed on his lips as he watched Ted pale. "Go away before I start sharpening my pencils."
Standing up, Ted blanked his face. He tugged at his tie and straightened his suit. "Thomas wants your article on New York by the end of the day."
"Yeah, tell your daddy next time to just send an email." Flicking his computer bag, Pete twirled his chair away from the prick. Just to emphasize his point he grabbed the cup of pens and pencils on the edge of his desk. The echo of a fast paced retreat was music to his ears.
He cast a glance in the direction Ted had gone and snorted. "Little shit." A quick survey of the office revealed that he was no longer being openly gawked at. Warmth filled him making him sigh with pleasure. "So, this is what smug satisfaction feels like." He liked it.
Using the mouse, Pete clicked the send button. The computer chimed to indicate his email had been sent. Finally, he was done. It had taken almost six hours, but he had gotten the damned article written. Typing with two less fingers was a plain old bitch.
At least he was done for the day. There would not be another assignment until the Monday meeting. That meant he had two days all to himself. An entire weekend without some asshole with a microphone and camera asking him what he was doing, it seemed like a dream.
A flick of the mouse shut the laptop down. He had to wait a few seconds for it to power down. Closing his computer, Pete tried not to slam it shut. It wasn't the computer's fault.
Still, he was done for the day and that was worth celebrating. Standing up, he pulled the bag from the lower part of his desk. He carefully put the computer in the bag, mindful of the plugs and ports. Zipping it up came with the sensation of satisfaction from being finished.
There was nothing else keeping him here now.
Pete glanced around the office as he slipped the bag's strap upon his shoulder. There were very few occupied desks in the entire office. Most of those were for the hardcore copy editors against the far wall, dedicated to their jobs and coffee pots. He couldn't imagine being that interested this job. Not any more.
He felt lighter as he made his way towards the elevator. It hadn't gone as bad as he thought it would have. There were parts of the day when he almost fled back screaming, but those were few and far between, thankfully.
By the time he raised a finger to hit the elevator call button, he felt exhausted.
Leaning against the control panel, Pete had let his head fall forward. The strain of a work day was starting to make his neck and shoulders tense up. This way he could strain the muscle and may be work out a few of the kinks. It was a nice idea if it worked.
May be he should have paid more attention to the that therapist in rehab.
The floor indicator dinged and the doors slid open with a soft drag.
Pete took a deep breath. Stepping off the car, he raised his head to see where he was going. The bag around his shoulders felt uncomfortably heavy when compared to earlier. He would never admit that he wasn't ready for this. It was his life, he would take it back even if he no longer fit in.
He raised a hand to wave at Sharon at the desk. He had last seen her about six months ago. Normally, he would have stopped to talk to the security guard to catch up, but he was too tired tonight. He would come in early tomorrow and catch her at the tail end of her shift.
"'ey! Watch where you're goin', four eyes."
Head whipping around, Pete felt his heart clench in his chest. His hand froze midair. It couldn't be real. For a minute the world drew to a quiet standstill. He realized he was staring, but was unable to make himself stop.
The left half of the man's face contorted in a sad smile. His gaze dragged over Pete, appraising what he saw. The smile slipped from his face the moment he saw the raised hand. "Christ, mate!" A half second later, he snorted. "At least the bloody bastard stopped before he got the important one."
Attention drawn to his disfigurement, Pete clenched his remaining fingers and dropped the hand to his side. With a shaky breath, he looked back to the other man. He opened his mouth to speak. Then he couldn't think of anything to say.
Reaching up with his right hand, Neil scratched at the right side of his face. The couple day's worth of growth made a rasping sound under his finger nails. "Stupid or just speechless?"
"A little of both, actually." No one was more surprised by the words than Pete when he said them. He gave a hesitant smile. "You're alive. Why?"
"Ouch!" Neil's hand quickly dropped to his chest. "Did I make a mistake in showin' up unarmed?"
Pete frowned. It took him a minute to figure out why Neil had said that. When he realized, his entire face grew hot. "Shit. I meant, how. How did you survive. We saw you..."
"Get eatin," Neil added helpfully, and with more than a little amusement? "Nah, fucker just took a nibble." He rubbed at the right side of his face again. "I reckon I didn't sit well with him and he spit me out."
Inexplicably, Pete found himself snickering, and fighting an inappropriate giggle. The situation certainly called for a lot more brevity than he could muster at the moment. Then he figured, fuck it, he didn't care what other people thought. "Your face." He pointed at the feature in question.
His fingers slid over the vibrant red gashes in his cheek. Neil grimaced, but the muscles in the right side didn't move. "What about it?" He turned his face so Pete could get a better look. "Even with the scars I'm a damn sight prettier than you, mate."
"Yeah, I can see that." They were both certifiable. The psychologist would no doubt have said this was one stage of the grief cycle, he didn't care. All Pete knew was that he hadn't thought about his hand as something wrong in five minutes.
"Don't worry, I'm sure on those lonely nights, you can still manage a quick wank." Neil's grin was slightly unbalanced. "After all, three fingers is about your right size, right?" He curled his left hand to jerk it over his crotch.
Clenching his eyes shut, Pete started to shake. He had to drop his head to his chest to keep from giggling out loud. This slashed up monkey was going make him lose it if he didn't get out of there soon. Biting back his response, he took a quick, calming breath. "You want to get out of here? Get a beer?"
"I don't know. I've heard some strange ideas about what you people call beer." Shrugging, Neil glanced away. "Bugger it, why the fuck not?"
Stepping through the door, Pete hesitated at the threshold. Music droned on tunelessly in the background to a hundred conversations. There were a lot more people that he had been expecting. Sure, it had been damn near six months since he had last set foot in the place, but they had never been this busy. May be coming here wasn't such a good idea after all.
A bump of his shoulder reminded him that he wasn't alone. He glanced back at Neil and realized the man wasn't the least bit intimidated. In fact, Neil was craning his neck to check the place out.
Sighing, Pete continued on in. He led the way to the bar, since there wasn't an open table. At least there were barstools. Some places he had been to since landing Monday were fucked over in some retro club refurbish. Apparently chairs and stools were a thing of the place in the modern bar.
Coming up behind Pete, Neil clapped him on the shoulder. "Right. Are you shouting or am I?"
That earned the taller man a raised eyebrow. Pete knew it was loud, but they didn't have to raise their voices too loud.
"Beer, mate." Neil swept a hand out over the bar. "You buying first? It was your invitation, manners and all." His scarred face contorted as he shook his head in disbelief.
Sudden realization made Pete snort. "Yeah, I'm 'shouting'." Rolling his eyes, he reached for his wallet and stepped up to the stools. He had to adjust the bag so he could sit down.
While he did that, the bartender came down to stand in front of them. "What can I get you fellas?" He looked from Pete to Neil expectantly.
"Gimme one of those Millers you're city's famous for." Having plopped down in his own stool, Neil jerked a thumb towards Pete. "He's paying."
Pete set his wallet on the bar with a wide-eyed smile. "Guess I am." Unlike his companion, he actually took a look at the offered selection. Empty bottles lined the shelf behind the bar, over fifty of them. It was enough to make him sigh. "I'll take a Heineken."
"Heineken?" A shiver of revulsion went through Neil. "You'd be better off suckin the used beer from me dick!" He grabbed his dick through his jeans for emphasis.
A man two stools down spit his beer over the bar. The fine mist coated everything within a two foot radius.
Neil leaned back with a scowl. "Oi! Fuckin watch it!" He checked to make sure none had gotten on his clothes.
With a put upon sigh, Pete closed his eyes. The urge to bang his head against the bar was strong. It was pretty much tied with reaching out and clothes-lining the bastard in the next stool to shut him up.
For his part, the bartender brought the two beers without even so much as batting an eye. He threw a rag at the man who spit his beer, though.
Pete had a strong feeling this night was going to end with one or both of them in cuffs. That only increased as Neil winked at him over his bottle.
Wincing as he swallowed, Neil finished with a sigh. "You know, that's not half bad. Which means it's also almost half piss."
"Wouldn't surprise me." Hefting the weight of his bottle, Pete checked the contents. "It's brewed in Milwaukee, after all." The smirk on his face at the comment slipped when he looked to Neil. "It's a baseball thing."
"Ah, the 'Great American Past Time'." Snorting, Neil sucked down about half his bottle. "About as queer as cricket." Again, he had to jerk back as the man two stools down sprayed his beer over the bar. This time, though, he was ready and unfazed. "Now, the footy, there's a real man's sport. That is, what you wankers would call Rugby." He spat the last word like it was responsible for all the world's ails.
"Of course." Looking straight ahead, Pete took a long swallow from his beer. "How silly of me."
Focusing on the beers on the far wall proved to be especially hard. Pete was dead certain he was drunk by now. He snorted. There were three empties in front of him, and the bartender had taken away just as many.
Slamming his tenth down, Neil burped loud enough to echo in the near empty bar. He smiled at the two remaining women in the far corner. When they flipped him off, he shrugged. "Your loss."
For some reason, this made Pete pat him on the shoulder. It wasn't like the ass needed consoling. May be it was a patronizing thing.
Neil quickly shrugged him off with a look. His sweat slicked hair was plastered to his skin.
They settled down in to a quiet for several more swallows.
After about five minutes, Neil looked up at the clock. He opened his mouth and quietly counted the time. Then he turned back to Neil.
For a second, Pete thought he was going to say something smart. He had his own comeback ready. After four hours of sitting with him, Pete almost had this smartass thing down pat.
"Katie's dead." Neil frowned. Checking out his arm, he raised his eyebrows. "Bloody smackie got'er hooked. Jacks found her, needle still in her fuckin arm." Brushing off something near his left wrist, he shrugged.
Everything seemed to stop after that.
Pete sat there staring at nothing. No longer pleasantly buzzed, he felt the real world creep up on him again. "Guess that leaves three of us now." Picking up his beer, he put the bottle to his lips.
"Hmm?" Neil turned to peer at Pete. His eyes appeared watery and unfocused. "What did you mean by that?"
"Russel and Elizabeth." Snorting, Pete couldn't find a single thing amusing about it. Still, he grinned at the other man. "Sherry sent me an email, but I read about it on the net this morning. They sat in the car, rolled the windows up, and drifted away together. Guess her cancer didn't get her in the end after all."
"Christ." Shaking his head, Neil hunched over the bar. "What a bloody rotten lot we are."
The only response was to shrug. Pete couldn't really disagree. Picking up his beer, he held it aloft in salute. "Here's to sweet lady death. May she rot in hell."
"Cheers, mate!" After clanking their beers together, Neil the bottle to his lips and chugged. He finished it off with a moan of displeasure. Slamming it down on the bartop, he sucked in a breath to growl.
Pete burst in to giggles. Chest shaking, he dropped his forehead to the bar. "I'm drunk."
"Speak for yourself, mate." Neil frowned. "Oh, guess you did. May be I'm a little pissed myself." He snickered. "Okay, may be a little more than a little."
"Right, mate." Pete did his best imitation of Neil's accent, failing to sound anything like the man.
With a burst of laughter, the taller man smacked the other's shoulder. "Try again. You might actually get the right country."
"Nah, once was embarrassing enough." Burying his face in his arm, Pete fought off the headache he could feel coming on. He groaned in pain. "Oh, shit, I've got to get home."
"You do? You do." Neil nodded as if this was the wisest thing he had ever heard. "Come on, I'll get you on your feet." Wrapping an arm around Pete's chest, he pulled the other man off the barstool.
Instead of getting to his feet, Pete fell forwards on to Neil. Cackling with laughter, he wrapped an arm around the other's shoulders. He used the new hold to tug himself up. Seeing Neil's face up close made him smile. "I don't think we made it."
Neil's eyes trailed down Pete's face, stopping at his lips. "Not yet."
Sighing as he picked up their empties, the bartender glanced to the clock. "I'll call you two idiots a cab."
"Did you hear that? He called us idiots." Pete frowned. He tried to glare over at the man, but found himself unable to look away from Neil's gaze. Sighing, he lowered he leaned forward enough to press their foreheads together. He could feel the sweat slicking the other man's skin and didn't care that it stained his own.
Pete suddenly found himself tugged in the rest of the way. Neil's strong arms wrapped him tight against his body. The sensation of stubble against his cheek made him close his eyes. He could smell the alcohol and sweat on the other man as he took a deep breath.
"We're all so fuckin alone." There was a slurring hint of sadness in Neil's voice. Sucking in a quick breath, he hugged Pete tighter to him. "I'm sick of it all. The whole bleak lotta them."
Slowly, Pete wrapped his arms around Neil's body. He could feel the pounding of the other's heart against his breast and knew they were alive. The urge to ask if any of this was real came unbidden. To be truthful, though, he didn't care.
Blinking seemed like a bad idea to Pete. Every time he did it, he seemed to lose time. Like a few seconds ago, he had been in the cab on the way home. Then he had blinked.
Now, he stood in his living room, a drunken Aussie hanging off him like a sucker vine. He wasn't sure which one of them was causing them both to sway. It didn't really seem important.
Neil snickered as he used Pete as a base while he glanced around. "Real swanky flat." This seemed to amuse him more as his cracking laugh filled the apartment.
"Thanks." He could hear the sarcasm in the other man's voice, but didn't care. "So, where should I put you down? Here on the couch or on the spare bed?"
"Right anywhere's fine with me, mate." Neil moved the hand from Pete's shoulder down to cup his ass. "I'm particular to here, though."
Feeling a groan coming on, Pete tried not to roll his eyes. He needed to see to keep his balance. It was a thready thing at best for the moment. So, he decided to press on. Where, he wasn't sure.
Then he blinked.
Soft lips trailed along his throat. Stubble, coarse against his skin, scratched where it touched. Pete surged against the larger body, but found himself effectively pinned to the bed.
Hands, broad and strong, seemed to be every where he needed them to be. Fingers wrapped tight around his dick, making him hiss from the painful friction. They only constricted tighter. Then the jerking motion started and all pain was forgotten.
The kisses had turned sloppy, leaving a trail of saliva over his chest and neck.
Closing his legs around a broad, muscular waist, Pete moaned loud. His voice was hoarse from use, making him sound desperate. A large pressure filled him in time to the flexing of a strong back and ass under his hands.
This was a man on top of him. That thought was strong in his mind. He moaned with each thrust, unable and unwilling to stop. It seemed to drive his lover onwards and he wanted only to reward him.
Groaning, the man bit down hard around Pete's nipple.
The sting made him hiss and wince. Clenching his hands on the tight ass, he pulled the man back, deep inside him. This was what he wanted. He needed this to be whole. "Harder!"
"Greedy bastard, aren't ya?" Snickering, Neil thrust as commanded.
Pete's cries filled the muggy bedroom.
Wrapped in a fuzzy, white robe, Pete plodded barefoot in to his kitchen/dining room/living room. The difference between the three rooms was about two feet of space between each set of furniture. Sitting down at the table, he eased himself in to the rolling chair.
It was the one good thing about these chairs, they had casters which made it easier to move them. He didn't have to pick up his sore ass once it was placed in it. The soft cushion made things even easier on him.
The mug of coffee he had carried with him steamed up his glasses as he took a sip. It wasn't his usual blend, but then again, he hadn't made it. He moaned softly for Neil's sake. Some how the other man's bag, with the coffee in it, had gotten to his apartment last night.
"Isn't it?" Holding his mug up, Neil crinkled his nose. He sat across the table from Pete with a stupid grin. "We look like one of those bloody coffee commercials you yanks favor."
That made Pete narrow his eyes. "Just how long have you been here?"
"Lemme see." Rolling his eyes to the ceiling, he pretended to mentally calculate the time. "Probably about a week."
"Wonderful. I can just imagine the kind of trouble you've gotten in to." Sighing, he reached forward with his free hand to touch his computer's touch pad. This brought it back from screensaver mode. He directed the mouse to the email program and brought it up.
Neil pretended not to be interested in what the other man was doing. He made a special effort to put jelly on his toast.
"How long are you planning on staying in Chicago?" It was more out of curiosity than anything personal, Pete told himself. He didn't really care if Neil had to leave tomorrow or next week. Finding the right email among the dozens was easy. It was the only one not from a major news network.
Flexing his eyebrows, Neil examined his toast. "Another week, probably two. Could be longer. I don't really know." He shrugged as if it was no big deal. "Not like I got shit to do."
Pete paused in his typing to look up. His eyes narrowed behind his glasses as something occurred to him. "How did you get the money to come here?"
Again, Neil shrugged. Chewing the toast, he flashed his teeth in parody of a grin. "Tastes like fresh arse without vegimite." Still, he finished off it and another piece in quick order.
Shivering in revulsion at the hated food product, Pete went back to typing. "I will be on assignment to London some time next week." His fingers started to ache even as they flew faster over the keys. "You are welcome to stay here while I am gone, just try to keep the noise down."
Snorting, Neil dusted off his hands. "Oi, you never know. May be I will come with." When he looked up, he met Pete's gaze. "I've never seen the big city. It might be interestin."
"Yes, you could flash your 'bum' at the Queen. I'm sure she would get a thrill from your lilly, white ass." Facing the keyboard again, Pete sucked in a quick breath. "I know it was a special treat the first time I saw it."
"Nah." Shaking his head, Neil sat back. His hands slid down to his lap, where his own robe fell open. "Might flash'er me bits if the ol' beauty asks."
"I can see where that might be a big draw for her." Hitting the send button, Pete sat back. He tried to lace his fingers over his stomach, but the sudden pain of hitting the recently healed flesh made him wince.
Quietly picking at his nails, Neil tried not to look up at Pete. "How is the little sheila?"
"She's coping." Closing his eyes, Pete reached up to pull his glasses off. He rubbed at his temples with both hands. "She'll be better when I get there to help her deal with it all, though, she says."
That earned him a snort.
"More like she wants to..." Neil trailed off at a warning look from the other man. Quirking his lips, he cocked his head a little. "It's what I wanted."
"Well, not everyone has the constitution of a goat with three dicks." Pete tempered his words with a longing looking. "Would you like to come with me and help keep her company? I wasn't lying when I said I would be on assignment."
"Thought you'd never ask." Picking up a banana from the plate in the center of the table, Neil snapped it open. "Wouldn't mind seeing the old city for a few days. Anything longer, and I might be tempted to strangle a few gronks, though."
Pete wasn't even going to ask. Some times it was best to just smile and nod. He didn't even notice when his hand stopped hurting.